Dunbar Fight Back To Earn Share Of Points

Dunbar United 2 Haddington Athletic 2


Report by Gordon Baird

After a first half where neither side created many clear-cut openings, this match came alight in the second half. The visitors raced into a two-goal lead and looked comfortable before the Dunbar substitutions and a Haddington red card, changed the game completely.

The “Seasiders” pulled a goal back and after Haddington’s Cunningham earned two quick yellow cards and saw red, they equalised and might well have gone on to win the match. At the end the visitors were hanging on and will be pleased with a point in a game they should have put to bed within the first hour.

East Lothian’s match of the day was the derby fixture between Dunbar Utd and Haddington Athletic in the McBookie.com East Premier League. The home side got back on track last Saturday with an away league victory over Kirriemuir Thistle – a week after their Junior Cup exit at the hands of Irvine Meadow X1.

The visitors also tasted Junior Cup loss themselves last Saturday against another Ayrshire side, Hurlford United. However, the Hi Hi’s have been going well this season and currently occupy one of the automatic promotion places to the McBookie.com East Super League.

Dunbar are not out of the promotion race either in their first ever season in the Premier League – only three points behind their visitors but having played three games more. With East Lothian’s Musselburgh Athletic well clear at the top of the table and four points covering the next six teams, this fixture was vital to both side’s promotion hopes. When the clubs met at Millfield in August they shared eight goals, with Haddington netting five.

There was a good crowd at New Countess Park on a cold, dry afternoon to see the sides get underway. However, it took 6 minutes for the teams to settle, before Haddington’s Osborne had the first shot, sending his effort wide. Jones was prominent on the left for Haddington but, there was no end product to his pacey runs.

Haddington were nearly presented with a chance on 8 minutes when Gillon’s back header was nearly intercepted but, McCathie in the home goal was alert to the danger and sharply off his line. A minute later Devlin’s shot for Athletic was deflected for a corner which came to nothing.

There was 12 minutes on the clock before Dunbar created anything and they won a corner, but it was easily cleared. After 17 minutes, Hill put a free kick just wide, but Haddington were the more dangerous at this stage.

Half way through the half Dunbar looked dangerous on the counter arrack through Ballantine and then from a King free kick but, the away keeper didn’t have to make a save Haddington’s Hill tried a shot from range, but it was well over the bar. After 32 minutes Tait did well for Dunbar but his cross across the face of the goal found no takers.

With 37 minutes on the clock Jones had a half chance to give Haddington the lead but shot wide. A minute later it looked like the visitors had made the break through – Hill played the ball through to Devlin but his fine effort was brilliantly touched over by McCathie, when his hooked effort looked goal bound.

At the other end King had a shot but it was well wide. Four minutes before the break, Haddington’s Quinn was nearly through and only a great tackle by Harley denied him a shot at goal. Right on the break Quinn had a headed effort but, it was a weak one.

The sides went in on level terms with Haddington having the better of the exchanges. It was a physical 45 minutes with little silky football and few real chances.

Half Time: Dunbar United 0 Haddington Athletic 0

There were no changes at the turnaround, but it didn’t take long for Haddington to make the break through. OSBORNE was the goal scorer after 49 minutes from the left side off the box, with a shot that seemed to deceive McCathie as it went over him and seemed to drop in at the last second – perhaps caught by the gusting wind. Two minutes later the lead was doubled. Quinn cut in from the right and his cut back was met by OSBOURNE who beat McCathie easily although the shot may have been deflected. At this point, with 51 minutes played it looked likely that Haddington would run out comfortable winners.

With 53 minutes played good interplay allowed Handling a shooting chance for a Dunbar but he fired over. Haddington had a chance to increase their lead just before the hour, but Quinn delayed his shot after a fine solo run and the chance was lost. A minute later Berry had a shot deflected wide – but the visitors were in control.

After the hour both sides made substitutions and the match changed. United withdrew Gillon and sent Young on and Haddington replaced Jones with Scott. Minutes later Dunbar brought on Chapman for King. Chapman had an instant impact and shot just wide with what must have been nearly his first touch.

After Tufail had shot just wide for Haddington, Dunbar pulled a goal back. Handling found BALLANTINE in acres of space on the left of the box and he planted his shot behind the helpless Alysansratos in the away goal – 66 minutes played and Dunbar were back in the match.

Haddington had Cairney yellow carded and brought on Cropley for Devin, and saw the substitute booked within minutes of coming on. With 73 minutes played, a Chapman free kick across goal nearly brought the equaliser but it eluded everybody. Haddington’s centre back Cunningham was then yellow carded for time wasting and it was to prove crucial.

With 78 minutes Haddington has a great chance to seal the points. However, Cropley shot wide with the goal at his mercy. A minute later Haddington looked to have won a penalty but, referee Graves decided Scott was guilty of simulation and yellow carded him. It looked harsh, but the referee was close to the action.

With 79 minutes played Cunningham was to regret his earlier yellow. He brought down a Dunbar player and gathered a second yellow and took the long slow walk back to the changing rooms. Haddington withdrew Quinn and brought Torrance on as they sought to keep the resurgent home side out.

Dunbar were now in charge and laid siege to the Athletic goal. After 82 minutes Ballantine shot straight at Alysansratos. Dunbar made their last change taking King off and introducing K Tait and a minute later, they were level. S Tait played in a good ball from the left to McLaren and the striker turned and fired past an exposed Alysansratos – a great finish and a well worked goal.

It looked like there could only be one winner now but, in another twist Cropley forced a wonderful save from McCathie after the sub was put in by Hill. At the other end Thomson headed over a Torrance corner. Hill was then booked as Haddington became more desperate as they defended. With the 90 minutes played Ballantine put a final chance high and wide.

This was a game that came alight after the break. Dunbar looked beaten, but the fresh legs made a huge impact and they might have won all three points – although their keeper made two fabulous saves during the match.

Best for Dunbar were S Tait and McLaren who gave the Haddington defenders a difficult afternoon. Hamill was a classy performer for Haddington and Osborne took his goals well.

Next week Dunbar go to Dundee to visit Downfield and Haddington entertain St Andrews United.

Dunbar: McCathie, Kean, S Tait, Gillon, Thomson, Harley, Ingram, King, McLaren, Handling, Ballantine. Subs: K Tait, Young, Chapman, Szemis, Johnstone.

Haddington: Alysansratos, Cairney, Tufail, Hamill, Cunningham, Hill, Berry, Osborne, Quinn, Devlin, Jones. Subs: Scott, Cropley, Torrance, Cockburn.

Referee: Daniel Graves.

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